My Goodreads Quotes

Allison’s quotes

"Don't you think it's rather nice to think that we're in a book that God's writing? If I were writing a book, I might make mistakes. But God knows how to make the story end just right--in the way that's best for us."
Do you really believe that, Mother?" Peter asked quietly.
Yes," she said, "I do believe it--almost always--except when I'm so sad that I can't believe anything. But even when I don't believe it, I know it's true--and I try to believe it."— E. Nesbit

Monday, May 23, 2016

Irish Adventures: Day 4

I spent a lot of time today musing on the nature of adventures.  They often seem to me flighty but glamorous beasts, perpetually shying away when you approach them directly but coming up to butt you playfully with their heads when your back is turned.  Frequently they underestimate their strength and send you flying into the gutter.  I call these posts my Irish adventure, but really I would be quite content if we had no adventures at all.

Yesterday was an adventure.

Grandma fell.

She will recover, and we are now tentatively continuing our trip.  Prayers for her would be appreciated.  But I do not have it in me today to write of my adventures.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Irish Adventures: Day 3

Day 2 recap: bus tour.  Tired feet.  Drank Guinness.  Ewwww.

Yesterday was our last day in Dublin, so we woke up bright and early to catch the train to Cork.  Very early.  Very bright, because the sun rises at around five in Ireland.  We had enough time for an Irish breakfast, then we had to wheel our luggage to the train station, which was thankfully just across the street, where we caught a train for Cork City.

I miss Dublin already.  Don't get me wrong; Cork is a lovely city.  It is quaint and picturesque while still somehow maintaining the amenities of a larger city.  But for me, it can't compete with the combination of the modern and the medieval, the urban and the suburban in Dublin.

I was worried about the train ride, because I've never taken a long train ride and will worry at anything that stands still long enough.  But it was an absolute dear.  It was rougher than I expected but in a pleasant way.  The hardest part was staying awake; it had quite a lulling effect.

It only took two or so hours to Cork, where we wandered fruitlessly for a while before breaking down and hiring a taxi driver to find our hotel.  We're staying in the oldest hotel in Cork, and it's a real beauty.

We had heard rumors of a medieval food fair called the English Market.  After getting lost for the fourth time in three days, we had lunch at a beautiful cafe.  It had vaulted medieval roofs and oregano bread.  It was like a brief visitation from Heaven.

(By the way, all the pictures are on my instagram at aruvidich, if you want to see them.)

We spent a few lazy hours shopping for gifts for our family.  I got my parents-- HA!  You thought I would give it away, didn't you, Mom and Dad?  You've got to be quicker than that!

Suffice it to say we had a lot of fun.

Because my grandmother and I are both Catholics, we got directions to the nearest Catholic church, the Holy Trinity.  It's as pretty as a frosted cake.  We spent many happy minutes toddling around it, trying gate after scary-rusted-chained-shut-gate before conceding that perhaps the church was not open for business.  The non-Catholics may not realize this, but that is quite radical for one of our churches.

I flagged down a passing man, who inexplicably carried a sheet of paper that said "existentialism" under one arm and inquired about an alternative church.

"If you turn right, go a hundred yards, then turn right, the left (I zoned out around here and cannot recall this part clearly), you can go to St. Augusta's," he said in his delightful accent.  "And if you can't find it, that just means your religious experience may be more spiritual than ritual."

Believe it or not from the quality of those directions, we could not find it.  We excitedly tracked down a church-like building we had seen, only to discover it was a coffee shop.  Oh, well.  Honest mistake.

But on our way back, we somehow ran into another church, Sts. Paul and Peter.  And it was Catholic!

It was one of those beautiful, hushed churches with medieval finishes, a raised lectern, and a holy, almost haunted ambience.  We had just missed the last Mass, so we settled down to pray.  It's one of those blessed places where it's easy to speak with God.

A fellow parishioner approached us, and we beamed at him, filled with the grace of God.  He did not smile back.

"Sorry to rush you ladies,"he said, "but the church is closing now."

And that, dear readers, is God saying: give up!

(Just kidding.  Obviously.)

Thoroughly chastened, we returned to the hotel bar for drinks.  I ordered an I'm-eighteen-so-it's-legal-I-promise Irish coffee and got carded.  Grandma had wine and was not.  We split a creme brulee and happily concluded our third day in Ireland.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Irish Adventures: Day 2

Note: I scheduled this for six in the evening by mistake.  Oops...

Day one recap: girl drank too much whisky on plane, had strong opinions about windows.  Saw Book of Kells and bought cool socks.  Got lost in the streets of Dublin.  Ate shortbread.

Welcome to Day Two.  I'm typing on my Kindle this time.  That's progress.

We awoke at 7:45 AM.  This does not sound dramatic by US standards, but because of the pesky five-hour time change, my body kept screaming "What are you doing?  Whyyyyyy" as I got dressed.

Fortunately, I regained my trademark composure over breakfast.

Actual thing I said to an Irish waiter: "I know you call bacon something different here, but I'm tired and I can't remember what it is.  So please bring me bacon."

He found it amusing, thank goodness.

After breakfast, we set off for our official tour of Ireland by bus, a journey made more exciting by the extreme narrowness of London streets, its highly creative bus drivers, and the great daring of its cyclists, for whom the solid line apparently equals a bike lane.  I would not drive a smart car through those streets, much less a bus.

Dublin is a strikingly beautiful city whose history is continually present.  It has an entire Georgian district, as well as some churches that were originally constructed by Vikings.  A statue near our hotel has bullet holes from the 1916 Uprising.  I expected our tour guide to have a perfunctory knowledge of Dublin, but he blew me away with his incredible historic knowledge.  At one point he lamented that the 1916 rebels had stored their ammo in one of the public record rooms.  It sustained a direct hit and exploded, destroying eight hundred years of county records.

He also explained the continual focus on the 1916 Uprising, which goes beyond its hundredth anniversary this year.  "The Irish are sentimental," he said.  "We love a hopeless cause or last stand."

They really do love the Easter Uprising.  I was here for some time before I realized they lost.

(At one point he also said we could be in Whales in an hour and a half for a short day trip.  I was all for it, but Grandma said no.)

After the bus tour, we breaked for lunch.  We had just passed the smirking statue of Oscar Wilde, so we retreated to a cute, literary-themed restaurant.  I ordered the "Wilde" (haha!) mushrooms on toast because it was cheap, and the restaurant was unexpectedly Fancy.  I anticipated the normal, canned and highly processed mushrooms you find in nature, so I was surprised by the Highly Fancy Mushrooms they served.  Don't get me wrong, they were delicious.  I just have no idea what I ate.

We wandered around until we found our tour bus again and set off to St. Stephen's Green.  It has some historical significance that I cannot recall precisely-- I believe a large crowd of young men were gunned down by the British there-- but all I can say for certain is that it is divinely lovely.

We were flagging well into the afternoon by this time, so we limped the hundred odd miles back to our hotel and had a tea break.  The magic little elves who cleaned the room also brought more shortbread.  It made me ridiculously happy.

Then we went to see live music, got lost, and somehow found some quite good fish and chips.  I'm still not certain how that happened...

It's quite late now, and we have an early train to Cork in the morning.  So goodnight, dear readers!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Irish Adventures: Day 1

Hello, readers!  I do apologize for being dreadfully silent on this blog.  I think I have a pretty good excuse.

I'm in Ireland!

(By the way, I'm writing this on my smart phone, gasp horror glug glug die, so I can't post pictures, but please feel free to find me on Instagram at aruvidich and follow along with the pictures there.)

For my 18th birthday, my parents said, "Our gift to you is a one-week trip to anywhere you want."

They were surprised when I said, "Ireland!"  The trip was hastily amended to "anywhere in the continental US."

But I can be a pretty stubborn cookie when I put my mind to it, and I had my heart set on the Emerald Isle.  So I invoked a higher power: my grandmother.

(My grandmother is a beautiful, 100-pounds-when-dripping-wet, southern lady, whose righteous fury can be as fierce as her homemade chili when roused.  She told my parents, "If you only want to pay for one ticket, why don't I go with her?"

And they agreed.  (I don't know how she does it.)

As you may recall from my last post, I recently got a job serving ice cream.  Because our franchise just opened, I had to log a lot of hours the first few weeks.  So even as the day of travel approached, I had yet to put in much effort.  (My grandma pretty much solo- planned this trip, because she can wrestle tigers and bake date nut bread and stuff like that.)

My plane left at six PM.  By noon, I had still not packed.

Ha.  Ha ha ha.  Ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA

Ahem.  Where was I?

Suffice it to say we were only fifteen minutes late on our way to the airport, by the grace of God.  Really, the hard part was choosing which books to bring.  I finally settled for "The Host," by Stephenie Meyer; "The Truth," by Sir Terry Prachett; "Clockwork Prince," by Cassandra Clare; and "The Screaming Staircase," by Jonathan Stroud, a re-read.

The flight from North Carolina to New York was short and sweet; it barely took an hour.  Then we had an hour or so to piddle about the NY airport before the really hard flight: a 6- hour overnight to Dublin.

The flight was every bit as enjoyable as you can imagine.  The giggles began at around ten o'clock, when, while dozing off to sleep in the comfortable contortions one associates with the possessed, I heard the girl behind me order a double whiskey.  I cannot testify to the amount of whiskey consumed because I fell asleep shortly after, but believe you me when I say that she was the only one on the plane who slept soundly that night.  (She was also the only one who felt obliged to give, at full volume, her full and unflinching opinion of her employer.  But I digress.)

Astoundingly, I awoke refreshed and bursting with energy, ready to face Ireland and all it offered, before I realized I had only been asleep for an hour and we were still ages away from arrival.  So I went back to sleep.

In true airplane fashion, I finally awoke an hour before I had to, with a crick in my neck and a weird taste in my mouth.  I blearily stared at the ocean for a while before the girl behind me, reprising her role as Official Jerk on Plane, who had slept all night with her feet propped on my arm rest, reached forward through the gap between the seats and closed my window because it aggravated her hangover.

I took great pleasure in opening it again.  And again.  And again.

We arrived in Dublin at 9 AM.  For the mathematically enterprising among you, because Ireland is five hours ahead of the east coast, it was 4 AM North Carolina time.  I was so tired that I barely noticed that our driver spelled my name wrong.  (Ravidich. That's a new one.)  He gave us a highly informed and interesting summary of the Irish political situation, but I was pretty fixated on the fact that he was driving on the left side of the road and didn't absorb much of it.

Our rooms at the hotel were not yet available, so we dropped off our bags and headed to the National Museum of Ireland.  Ireland celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising this year, so the entire exhibit was dedicated to it.  This was embarrassing because I knew positively nothing about it,  and even more so because my grandmother evidently did.  She kept making intelligent comments while I was mildly surprised to realize that Ireland had (technically) lost.

Then we had lunch, which was amazing because the breakfast of yogurt on the plane + my lactose intolerance means that I was not wildly in the mood to tour more of the museum.  I had cottage pie.  It is ground beef and vegetables topped with a beautiful mashed potato dome.  As a complete non expert in either food or Irish culture, I can affirm that it seemed Very Irish To Me.

After this, we met with our local host to discuss our plans for the rest of the trip, but because of the good food and lack of sleep and whatnot, I sent most of the meeting starting fixedly at a map of Dublin.  My only impression of our local host is that he was very nice and Very Irish.  All of Ireland so far has been Very Irish.

It is worth mentioning that A.) in North Carolina time it was still five in the morning, B.) because of the overnight flight and lack of hotel room, I had not brushed my teeth in over fifteen hours, and C.) none of those facts have really changed by the time I write this blog post.  So that may have been coloring my judgment, both past and current.

I perked up a little after the meeting because we got to take the tram to Trinity College, and we used beautiful, sparkling euro coins to buy tickets, and they brought me a terrific amount of joy.  And all this before I even clapped eyes on the Book of Kells.

For those of you who don't know, the Book of Kells is a beautiful illuminated gospel painted on the Irish isle of Iona, then relocated to the monastery of Kells as protection against the Vikings, then somehow smuggled into Dublin, unless I am misremembering this, and, let's be real, I have now been awake for over twenty four hours and probably am.

Suffice it to say it is a very old, very beautiful book that inspired an awesome movie (the Secret of Kells) (yes, I know, that movie is true except for the characters and the plot and stuff!!!).  It is heavily tied to a semi mythological monk's cat named Pangur.  I bought socks with the freaky medieval illumination of Pangur in the gift shop.  I cannot tell you how much joy they bring me.

We then got to tour the Long Room in Trinity College's library.  As an author, I frequently try to describe the intangible, to pin down the indefinable.  I give up here.  Go look up a picture.  It's too beautiful for words.

Our local host had recommended a pub for us to try, so we tromped off there when the your finished, because three hours after the giant cottage pie I was starving again.  The pub was founded in the 1600s and was as unbelievably precious as you would guess.  I ordered Irish stew before I realized I'd forgotten my magic lactose intolerance pills, behavior which some people call Stupid but I call the Spice of Life, unless of course the Spice contains dairy, can I see the nutritional information please?  But I gobbled down the stew anyway without asking if it contained dairy.  It felt like playing Russian roulette.  Sometimes I need to remind myself what a thrilling and dangerous life I lead.

(It did contain dairy.  Ouch.)

(Did I mention I work in an ice cream store?  I need to review some of these life choices.)

(But we do have awesome sorbets, just saying.)

We returned to our hotel without incident, barring three quarters of an hour wandering around the seedier parts of Dublin clutching our purses and saying, "Excuse me, but is this Abbey Street?", escaping robbery only by being so conspicuous that thieves automatically assumed there was a catch.  Our hotel room was ready.  (They left little packets of short bread for us.  My grandma let me eat half of hers.  Love you, grandma.)

Then we settled down for the evening at 6 PM Dublin time, like the hard core adventurers we are.  I think I'll wash my hair now.  Goodnight.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fun May Updates

Hello, readers!  Today I plan on interrupting the YA Tropes I Hate series (haven't read it?  Start here!) with some fun life updates.

I had a lot of time this month to stew on the nature of endings.  A lot is ending for me right now-- my classes, high school, my time living in my parents' house.  It is hard and frightening to let go sometimes.  I can taste college and adulthood right around the corner, and I am ridiculously excited at what this means: being treated like an adult, working hard, and setting off into the world.  But that's still four months away.  A chapter of my life is ending, and the next has yet to begin.  I have four months of awkward in-between, and I'm not sure how I'll spend them.

Most excitingly, I have graduated from high school and confirmed that I will attend UNC Chapel Hill in the fall.  My official cap-and-gown graduation ceremony, as well as college orientation, isn't until June, but classes are over, I have my final grades, and I am sooo ready to enjoy summer.

I also finished my training program with the Catholic Church and was confirmed as a full member of the church.

Me and my lovely sponsor!
For those of you unfamiliar with the Rite of Confirmation, it symbolizes your adulthood in the church.  You pick a patron saint, and their name becomes your saint-name.  It's like an additional middle name, which hardly anyone uses day-to-day.

I chose the name Miriam of Nazareth, the Jewish name of the Virgin Mary.  I chose it because A.) she's the coolest, and B.) I really like Jewish culture and history and wanted to honor that.

In other exciting news, I have my first real job (aside from a brief stint teaching violin).  I work as a crew member for the local Cold Stone Creamery.  It is the most fast-paced, intense, energetic work I have ever done, although that may be because I had my first shift on a Saturday night.  By the end of this summer, I am going to have crazy arm muscles from pulling ice cream.

In slightly less life-changing but equally exciting news, remember how I got to meet Maggie Stiefvater?  She gave a lovely talk, signed my book, and took a hilarious No-Smile Selfie with me, which absolutely made my day.  If you haven't read her book The Raven Boys, I highly recommend it.

After an action-packed month like that, I'm more than ready to have some time off.  But they say the wicked never rest, and I suppose that's true, because in a little over two weeks, I'm jetting off to Ireland, where I will fail to post anything but take lots of pictures for when I get back.

But I'll save that for next month's updates.

How about you, readers?  How's your month so far?